Falconry is one of the most authentic and historic outdoor recreation hobbies in the history of the world.
The concept of falconry is using a trained bird of prey, typically a falcon or a hawk, to hunt for various species of small mammals and birds.
Evidence suggests that people have been training birds to hunt for over 2,000 years. While it’s a somewhat small circle compared to hunting and fishing communities, there is still a strong falconry hunting community in the United States and abroad today.
While eagles, hawks, and falcons are the most commons species used for falconry, owls are also highly formidable hunters capable of seeing at night and flying in silence. They’re also very smart and very trainable, and now for the first time ever, they’re legal to hunt with in Ohio.
Those regulatory changes were adopted by the Ohio state legislature and signed into effect by Governor Mike DeWine last week.
According to Cleveland.com, a digital news source in northeast Ohio, hunting with owls is legal in 45 other states. The most common species of owls used for hunting great horned owls, barred owls and Eurasian eagle owls.
The bill was introduced by state Senator Frank Hoagland who said:
“Ohio sportsmen who know, and participate in, the sport of falconry were clear in their belief that the outdated law excluding owls was unnecessarily restrictive, and I agree.
I am proud to see my legislation to ease those restrictions become law. With the governor’s signature, Ohioans in the falconry community can enjoy this wholesome outdoor activity in a whole new way, with a new bird of prey.”
Under Ohio law, a person who wishes to hunt using birds must register for a permit through the Division of Wildlife. Besides owls, you can also hunt using a variety of other species including falcons, caracaras, hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and even certain vultures.
The Ohio Falconry Association has great information and resources for those interested in getting started. There are approximately 110 licensed falconers in Ohio, according to the Association.
Mick Brown, the President of the Falconers Association worked closely with the state legislature during the process.
He’s excited to see the positive changes come to fruition. While the law will impact a relatively small number of Ohioans, it’s a meaningful change none the less.
Only a small fraction of Ohio falconers are likely to ever go hunting with owls. It’s actually more about helping train owls that get taken to wildlife rehabilitation and veterinary clinics after being injured or abandoned in the wild.
Working with a trained falconer allows they to regain their natural hunting skills without fear of starvation.
According to Brown is similar to physical therapy after a hospital stay:
“If they injure a leg or a foot, then that that’s going to make them unable to hunt.
But if a falconer has them, or if we find one of them birds, we can kind of rescue it and you know make sure it has good hunting ability before it gets released back into the wild.”
For more information on hunting with owls, check out the video below from Ben Woodruff with the Falconry Podcast.